Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


Nobody Is Responsible Except You

Napa Valley, California, USA

Fourth of July, 2022

"Before anyone laments the State of the Union today, I remind them I grew up in one of the most oppressive regimes the world has ever seen, so I'm qualified to comment that what we have here is simply sweet by comparison.
On another note nobody, certainly not the government, is responsible except you for creating a sense of independence for yourself, regardless of what's going on around you or happening to you.
Happy Fourth of July!"
... Laurence Platt texting, Fourth of July, 2022
"Let me give you a little hint on how to listen. The point is not to listen to a series of propositions, but rather to follow the movement of the showing."
... Martin Heidegger, On Time and Being
"Too much is never enough."
... David Bowie
This essay, Nobody Is Responsible Except You, is the fifteenth in a group of fifteen written on the Fourth Of July:
  1. Anticipation: Accounting For An American Love Affair
  2. Independence Day
  3. I'd Rather Be With Me
  4. Do It For Nothing
  5. The Only Way Out Is Through
  6. Under All Circumstances
  7. Word Power
  8. When There's Nothing To Say
  9. The Possibility Of Being Independent And Free
  10. Intimacy In A Crowded Place
  11. What Goes On
  12. Imprints Of Love
  13. Bookends: A Reflection On Mortality
  14. Come Back To Being
  15. Nobody Is Responsible Except You
in that order.

It is also the prequel to Conversations That Matter (And Those That Don't.

On the surface of things, generalizing may seem like a good way to make and prove a point, the hoped-for  result of which would be that the more subjects there are in the sample that comply with the hypothesis, the more weight there'll be in support of its inference. Equally, generalizing can detract from a perfectly valid hypothesis. "Everyone knows  ..." cavalierly wielded, sweeps under the rug all those who we know don't  know. It's a risky ploy at best. At worst, it's sloppy.

That said, there's an underlying theme, an underpinning  if you will, which almost all (see how careful I am to mitigate the impact of my own generalizing?) disciplines, paths, therapies, religions etc etc have in common. This theme, this underpinning, this common thread comes in the form of a question. And it's a question which has various shapes, inflections, foci, and facets ie leading edges. On the face of it, it may even seem as if there are multiple  questions comprising this theme, each different at their core. But there aren't. There's only one  (as the Highlander may have said). Werner distinguishes this question as "Will ... we ... survive?".

Engaging with this question (generalization alert!), disciplines, paths, therapies, and religions obsess over survival as the  concern for human beings, and success as the point ie as the goal of our lives. Bundled with survival as the central concern, are threats to our survival, and ways and means of ensuring we survive. Survival includes material survival, physical survival, point-of-view survival (which is a form of ego survival), individual survival, group survival, even spiritual survival (which is another more pernicious form of ego survival). Although it's clearly a generalization, asserting "all" of them obsess over surviving / ensuring survival, is good enough for jazz.
Werner's work, unlike all the others, takes exception with survival inasmuch as while it distinguishes  survival (and I just did), it's not prima facie  focused on it. It's not unilaterally concerned with it. It's not consumed by it. And it doesn't ever aver it'll teach you to master surviving and / or to provide "success-leaves-clues" recipes for success. What it teases out is completion  ie being complete. Being complete as the context for any action, begets more being complete, rendering all  action as an expression of being complete. Surviving, without completion as the context for all actions, only begets more surviving. In a word, surviving is Self-defeating, going AWOL  (Absent Without Leave) during those vexing times when we're still  not experiencing being complete in spite of great success (that's  the inconvenient truth).

In the matter of declaring your life complete (and in Werner's work it's just that way: it gets down to declaring  it complete), there's nothing to win, there's nothing to succeed at. You're alive, so being complete is already fait accompli. Against all possible erudite denials to the contrary, what being complete and experiencing being complete comes down to, is a matter of my say so. I speak my life as not complete? So it isn't. Then all that's left is to survive and to try to succeed. I speak my life as complete? So it is. Then all there is, is being complete and experiencing being complete in any and all action. Look: being complete doesn't "happen to you" as a result of something you do (you can't win, succeed at, or cajole being complete). It's a linguistic  action: if I'm speaking being complete, I'm generating  completion.
Werner's work, unlike all the others, regards surviving / success as neither the point nor the goal. Rather it's the starting line. In completion, my survival / success is already  assured ie it's already a possibility. Werner calls this "playing from win". You won't inherit this. It's not handed out. Neither is it guaranteed like a right. Worse than that, it's arguably not even intuitive. And while "all you have to do is speak it" may sound simple, it's not always easy  (if it were easy, the whole world would be transformed by now). To have completion (which is to say, to be  complete), you have to speak it for yourself. And nobody is responsible except you for speaking it.

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